Thought leadership

Boosting your commercial credibility

What is the true value in boosting your commercial credibility with the senior leaders within a business and how can it be achieved?

HR Directors sometimes struggle to have their voice heard by the CEO over the noise from other players on the Executive Team. We discussed with Tony Bainbridge and David Chapman of CEO Whispering how HR leaders can boost their commercial credibility and have more impact and influence with business leaders and CEOs. In a study consisting of HR leaders, results saw that these individuals believe their commercial credibility ranks as highly critical in accomplishing their strategic HR objectives and the factors holding them back from achieving this were:

  • Lack of CEO backing
  • The need for tools to support their initiatives
  • Executive team agenda not prioritising the HR agenda

Tony and David delved into the challenging CEO architypes from the ‘Intellectual’ who is the super cerebral leader who lacks ability to demonstrate empathy, to the emotional and quick-to-anger ‘Volcano’ leader who spews pressure onto those around them. Could you partner with an ‘Intellectual Ditherer’? How do you influence an individual intelligent who lacks the ability to make a decision? We obtained some answers… Tony, a seasoned HR Director, talked us through some tools on how to challenge, influence, and effectively partner with leaders who display challenging traits. For example:

  • Build trust with ‘The Pal’ (the CEO who wants to please everyone and avoid confrontation) and speak the truth, point out the consequences of pleasing everyone – the impact of the business and confusion being sewed.
  • Use the phrase ‘I owe you the truth’ to stand up to the ‘Volcano’ – pick your time to tell them about the impact on the team around you. Be the one to speak out.
  • Reference your information and data for the ‘Intellectual’ as they value points from the hardest hitting academic sources.
  • Be concise with your 'Ditherer' CEO – provide options, keep them limited, and make sure you both remain focused towards the end goal.

We then covered the key mistakes HR teams make to undermine their own and their function’s reputation with a resounding response of:

  • Failure to deliver and/or slow to action.
  • Lack of business understanding and not speaking the language of stakeholders.
  • The need for compelling data usage and presentation.

How do we overcome these problems?

Position yourself as a business leader and be the organisational expert. Be aware of where your business is on the economic cycle and ensure that you have actionable and relevant data. Be immersive in your business, spend time understanding what your people do, how the business makes a pound, and always know your payroll costs. CEO Whispering passionately support HR leaders to bolster their commercial acumen, positioning HR as a key lever in business success. If you’d like more information on this Future CPO session or the full CEO Whispering programme, please reach out directly the someone from the team – we’ll be happy to share further research and discuss the issues you may be facing.

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